Jul 1, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printing takes on Hollywood!

3D printing takes on Hollywood!

While traditionally considered the tool of product designers, 3d printers are making their mark on Hollywood blockbusters such as Coraline and Iron Man 2.

Henry Selick has set the bar high for all future stop motion animations in his 2009 film Coraline. Never before has a hands-on medium been able match the smooth facial transitions of CG animation, within the project budget and time lines.  To achieve the level of detail required by Selick, some 15,300 different faces were produced for the 21 characters along with thousands of props, the production of which would have taken roughly four years using traditional model making techniques – the use of 3d printers allowed for the completion of these parts within eighteen months.


The use of 3d printing has not however been confined to the world of animation as evident in its role in Iron Man 2.  Through the use of 3d printers it was possible to produce custom-fitted pieces that fit the wearer like a second skin, allowing greater flexibility and longer wear times. Armour for Iron Man 2 was design and built based on scans taken from the actors with the Repulsor 3-in-1 glove worn by Robert Downey Jr produced from a scan of the actors hand. The use of 3d printing technology allowed for objects such as Stark’s Iron Man suit and Whiplashes body armour to be produced within hours all at the touch of a button,  with all that remains prior to shooting a simple painting job.

Iron Man Glove produced on 3d printer

Iron Man Glove produced on 3d printer


Jun 23, 2011
Comments Off on SLS helps produce the tennis racket of champions

SLS helps produce the tennis racket of champions

SLS is used in design of tennis rackets.

SLS ensures optimal performance for new sporting equipment designs.

The tennis racket manufacturer of choice, for tennis stars such as Nikolay Davydenko, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Jelena Jankovic, Prince Sports has enlisted the help of SLS technology to ensure the optimal performance of their range of tennis rackets.

Working closely with a local rapid prototyping bureau, Prince sports required the manufacture of inserts/outer clips surrounding the racket perimeter and an  initial prototype 1:1 scale aesthetic model of a prototype tennis racket, which if the inserts/outer clips SLS manufacture proved successful would be the first in a series of 30 rackets inspired by this technology.

While initial testing of the inserts and outer clips unfortunately resulted in the insert giving way, th

ese early tests allowed for the initial design to be upgraded to enhance the performance durability of the overall insert design. For Prince Sports these early testings of the inserts are crucial to the performance of the overall piece, as loss of energy due to insert deformation will impact on the speed of the ball, a key consideration for tennis players competing against some of the worlds best players.

Once satisfied with the insert design a 1:1 scale model of the racket frame and bumper was produced, with all three parts assembled upon completion. For Prince Sports the prototype racket assisted in the further development of the aesthetics and functional of the overall design.

Jun 20, 2011
Comments Off on Can 3D printing help save burns victims?

Can 3D printing help save burns victims?

3d printing of human skin

Researchers aim to save lives with 3d printing of human skin

Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are working to unlock the healing benefits of 3d printing, with the aim of helping wounded soldiers.

The team have redeveloped a standard store bought 3d inkjet printer, to facilitate the printing of living cells as ink. Other modifications to this technology include the development of a 3D “elevator” and pressurized nozzles to allow a safe distance to be maintained between the printer and the patient.

Initial testing on mice has revealed an advanced rate of healing by the second and third week in comparison with the rate of healing in untreated subjects. A combination of skin cells, coagulants and collagen are printed directly onto the wounded tissue which are then topped by a layer of keratinocytes (i.e. skin cells) – also printed. On application to the wounded tissue the cells would mature to form new skin.

Future trials will be conducted on pigs, whose skin structure more closely resembles that of humans. While in reality 3d printing of human skin may yet be a long way off the promise of this technology is truly incredible. Research has shown that the longer it takes to cover a wound with skin, the higher the risk of infection, complications and death, should this technology reach local and field hospitals it is likely to have a significant impact on the survival rates of burns victims.


Jun 13, 2011
Comments Off on Shoemaker grows business with 3D Printing

Shoemaker grows business with 3D Printing

The UK based, global shoe manufacturer Clarks has transformed its product development process with the aid of 3D printing technology.

Clarks 3D Printed Shoes
3D printed prototypes reduce product development lead times and costs for Clarks


Breaking away from the traditional approach to shoe design, Clarks has introduced 3D printing to their design process, leading to considerable savings in both development costs and lead times. The traditional approach begins with hand sketches on paper, which are reviewed and revised several times over until a product concept is approved. The upper materials are then sourced and the concept sent to a shoe factory, and then you wait for several weeks for the sample show to arrive. The sample is then reviewed and original sketches once again revised and modified prototypes ordered until the final product design is reached.

For Clarks this lengthy and often costly design process has been thoroughly modernised with the help of 3d printing technology. After the initial paper sketch, designs are moved to 3D CAD software where designs can be manipulated with minimal effort until product managers are happy with the on-screen concept. And then with the simple push of a button a prototype shoe can be quickly printed in the design office, shrinking the design process significantly.

For Clarks digital development manager Ross Arthurs 3D printing has allowed Clarks to “respond to the market faster than ever” and “to evolve from the best shoemakers in the world into the best innovators in the world” (TCT Magazine 04/11).

Jun 10, 2011
Comments Off on 3D Printing Science or Art?

3D Printing Science or Art?

Hare created by SculptCAD Rapid Artist Heather Gorman

Hare created by SculptCAD Rapid Artist Heather Gorman


A while back I came across an interesting project called SculptCAD Rapid Artists, which left me wondering if 3D printing is really science or merely an extension of traditional art techniques.

The SculptCAD Rapid Artists project invited 12 artists to diverge from their regular mediums to create something new using state of the art digitalising tools.

The result a contemporary approach to art, which produces high speed and on demand pieces, and allows even impossible geometries to become possible. Each artist interpreting the possibilities presented by 3D tools and prototyping to create sculptures representing their personal creative outlook.

When asked about his experience Brad Ford Smith revealed that one of his greatest surprises during the project lay not in the impact of using 3D tools, which as he expected “did not make the creative process any easier”, rather in the response of people to the project. While many welcome this technology’s use for the replacement of missing or damaged bones its application to the world of art was met with long discussions on the value and nature of art, and acted as further proof that art will be fabricated by the simple push of a button, and that our culture is going down the tubes.


Jun 9, 2011
Comments Off on Selective Laser Sintering takes flight

Selective Laser Sintering takes flight

Scientists at FESTO have unlocked the secrets to the swooping movement of birds in flight.

A revolutionary feat of engineering, the SmartBird design allows it to not only fly but also start and land autonomously – without the help of any additional drive systems-. Inspired by the herring seagull, and boasting
2 meter long wings the SmartBird when left to its own devices can simply glide through the skies or can be controlled through a radio handset.

The robot’s wings can not only beat up and down but also twist at specific angles along their length in the very same way that a real bird’s do. Directional control is achieved through the opposing movement of the Smartbirds head and torso sections which allow for aerodynamic movement and simultaneous weight displacement, while the tail produces lift functions.

Smartbird: Excellent Aerodynic Qualities and Extreme Agility
Realistic: The SmartBird’s wings not only beat up and down, they also twist at specific angles

Packed inside the SmartBird’s torso are the battery, engine and transmission, crank transmission and control and regulation electronics. In order to ensure the SmartBird could float through the air with moderate flapping, it was necessary to ensure minimal use of materials and the lightweight construction, this was achieved through the SLS process which allowed for a functional housing to be constructed at minimal weight – the SmartBird weighs a maximum of 450 grams

So realistic are the movements of the Smartbird that from the ground it would be easy to mistake it for the real thing.

We at Laser Prototypes are excited to see where Rapid Prototyping will show up next!

Jun 3, 2011
Comments Off on Report on Medical Applications of Additive Manufacturing Released

Report on Medical Applications of Additive Manufacturing Released

One of the UK’s leading Rapid Prototyping bureaus Laser Prototypes have released a complimentary Additive Manufacturing report focused on the Medical applications of Rapid Prototyping, 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

Find out how scientists are working to help burns victims through the adaptation of 3D printing techniques. Learn how medical device companies are using Rapid Prototyping technologies to produce fully customised end products while surgeons apply the very same technology to increase success rates in complex procedures. Along with providing an interesting insight into just what is possible in manufacturing today, this report highlights some of the latest processes and materials within the Additive Manufacturing industry

We thought you might find the report of interest, so we have added it to the download section of our site.

Jun 1, 2011
Comments Off on EOS unveil the new EOSINT M280

EOS unveil the new EOSINT M280


EOS M280
Image courtesy of EOS

It appears that the gap between Rapid Prototyping and final production is shrinking even further, as EOS introduces the latest addition to their range of DMLS machines.The worlds largest SLS machine manufacturer hasunveiled the latest in the evolution of their DMLS systems. The latest addition to the product range sees the conversion of the DMLS system into full-fledged production tools for economical, batch-size, optimized manufacture of parts at all stages from prototyping through to finished product. 

The M280 builds on the capabilities of the EOSINT M270 (currently the leading system on the market for additive layer manufacturing of metal components) and can build fully functional parts in a wide range of materials, with standardisation and quality assurance capabilities on a par with those of traditional manufacturing processes.

We wonder if mass customisation of end products is even closer at hand than we had originally thought. 

May 23, 2011
Comments Off on Welcome to our new blog

Welcome to our new blog

Laser Prototypes is proud to announce the launch of their new 3D Printing News blog.

Laser Prototypes, the longest established Rapid Prototyping Bureau in the UK and Ireland, has set up this blog for everyone interested in the world of 3D printing, Additive Manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping. In our upcoming postings we will be bringing you details of new materials and processes, updates from leading 3D printing and materials manufacturers, emerging applications of this technology and of course some interesting case studies discovered along the way.

This blog is all about keeping you informed of developments within the Rapid Prototyping industry, and we are hoping that you get involved and share your thoughts. We would also like to invite you to join our Twitter account or visit our YouTube channel where we will be updating you on the latest happenings at Laser Prototypes.